Lutgard (1182–1246)

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Lutgard (1182–1246)

Flemish Cistercian mystic, stigmatic, and saint. Name variations: Saint Lutgard; Saint Lutgardis. Born in Tongres (Belgium) in 1182; died in Aywières (near Brussels), on June 16, 1246.

Born of bourgeois parents, Lutgard joined the Benedictines of Saint-Trond in 1194 and became prioress of the convent in 1205. Finding the observance of the Benedictines too lax, she transferred to the Cistercian convent of Aywières in 1208. There, she engaged in three seven-year fasts in reparation for the heresy of the Albigensians (Catharists of Albi in southern France) then in full sway. Originally, the lower classes of the Albigensians and the Waldensians rebelled against clerical corruption in the Catholic Church. But when their nobles, who saw a chance to confiscate church land, became involved, Pope Innocent III proclaimed a crusade against them, called the Albigensian Crusade. The Passion (the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ) was the center of Lutgard's religious life. When she was 29, she received the stigmata, a spear wound, and carried the scar to her death; she also frequently experienced the sweat of blood and in 1235 became totally blind. Lutgard predicted the day of her death, which was June 16, 1246.